FWD Champions Day at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, 25 April will bring together the very best of Hong Kong’s elite gallopers and a top-line contingent from Japan in three exciting Group 1 races.
The brilliant Golden Sixty will look to extend his unblemished run to 14 wins when he contests the HK$20 million Group 1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m), Japan’s Fillies’ Triple Crown winner Daring Tact clashes with reigning Hong Kong Horse of the Year Exultant in the HK$25 million Group 1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m), while Danon Smash returns following his December triumph in search of more Hong Kong riches in the HK$18 million Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m).
A total of 29 talented horses from both Hong Kong and Japan, including nine individual Group 1 winners, have been selected to compete in the three races worth HK$63 million.
Mr. Andrew Harding, Executive Director, Racing, at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said: “It is very exciting to see that the 2021 edition of FWD Champions Day will provide such thrilling sporting action, with the best of Hong Kong lining up against a top-line contingent of Japanese raiders. We started work in January to once again overcome the myriad challenges from the global pandemic and stage a day of world-class sport, including some international participation consistent with our core principles for managing COVID-19 risks and meeting all health precautionary requirements set by the HKSAR Government.”
FWD Queen Elizabeth II Cup
Reigning Horse of the Year Exultant will meet Japan’s Daring Tact in a clash of old and young over the famed 2000m at Sha Tin in the Group 1 FWD QEII Cup. A seven-year-old now, the Irish-bred son of Teofilo, Exultant, will aim to capture his sixth win at the top-level and second FWD QEII Cup in succession. Against him, Japan’s sixth Fillies’ Triple Crown victor Daring Tact, who in turn bids to become the sixth Japanese winner of the FWD QEII Cup as she steps out onto international soil for the first time as a brilliant winner over 1600m, 2000m and 2400m in her home country.
Not least, she also finished third to super mare Almond Eye in the 2020 Japan Cup (2400m) and, fifth out of that race, Glory Vase, the 2019 Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) hero will also feature, as well as Japanese Classic winner Loves Only You and the enigmatic Kiseki – a brazen son of 2012 QEII Cup winner Rulership.
Trainer Tony Cruz’s game veteran Exultant is one of nine selected for the 2000m feature, which includes six Group 1 winners in total and his presence is bolstered by the inclusion of stablemates Time Warp and Furore, the former is a two-time Group 1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) winner while the latter reigned supreme in the 2019 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m).
The improving Glorious Dragon, winner of the Group 3 Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m) and last-start course and distance winner, also lines up as does Chefano, runner-up in the 2020 Group 1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m).
FWD Champions Mile
Golden Sixty was imperious when winning the 2020 Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile and the brilliant son of Medaglia d’Oro will step down in distance after claiming February’s Group 1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) to contest the Group 1 FWD Champions Mile.
While two legs of Hong Kong’s Triple Crown are in the bag and the third, the Group 1 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (2400m) is set for the end of May, the new pin-up boy of Hong Kong racing will in the meantime look to extend his record to 14 consecutive wins in the FWD Champions Mile, with a view to also winning his fourth Group 1 race in succession.
But there is no shortage of opposition to Francis Lui’s standout charge, with seven selected to run including last year’s winner of the race, Southern Legend, a consistent jetsetter who has two international successes to his name in Singapore and, was narrowly touched off by Golden Sixty three starts ago in the Group 1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) by a head.
Also included in the small but select field is the 2021 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) victor Sky Darci, who is joined by fellow four-year-old Healthy Happy, winner of the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).
The home team also features Ka Ying Star, last-start Group 2 Chairman’s Trophy all-the-way winner Mighty Giant and More Than This.
Chairman’s Sprint Prize
Danon Smash, winner of December’s Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) is aiming to add another top-level victory in Hong Kong to his growing resume when he contests the Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize. His record, which now also features last month’s Group 1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) at Chukyo Racecourse, is growing rapidly and he tops the billing for this month’s HK$18 million dash.
While Hong Kong’s representatives took a hit with the withdrawals of Hot King Prawn and Classique Legend, as well as the absence of Aethero, there is still no shortage of talent in the jurisdiction bidding to stop him. Jolly Banner, who finished second to Danon Smash in last year’s Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint is entered, while Wellington, who clocked an equal Class 1 record to that of the legendary Sacred Kingdom also lines up.
A trio of Group 2 winners also feature – Wishful Thinker, who claimed this season’s Premier Bowl (1200m) is engaged, as is Rattan, the 2019 Group 2 Sprint Cup (1200m) victor, while Voyage Warrior, the winner of the 2020 Group 2 Sprint Cup (1200m), takes his place.
Trainer Frankie Lor, who won this race last year with Mr Stunning, will be represented by a pair of talents, the Group 3-winning Big Party and Fat Turtle, fifth in last year’s Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint.
Computer Patch, a Group 3 winner down the straight features, as does Sky Field and three supplementary entries, the first three across the line in the Group 2 Sprint Cup (1200m), Amazing Star, Stronger and Beauty Applause, respectively, rounding out the 13-runner field.